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Ballotpedia's Daily Brew: Five 2018 ballot measures that went into effect for New Years Day

posted Jan 2, 2019, 12:11 PM by Rahni Sumler   [ updated Jan 2, 2019, 12:14 PM ]
Ballotpedia Daily Brew from News Editor, Sarah Rosier

Welcome to the first edition of Ballotpedia's Daily Brew in 2019. They've talked a lot about the 2018 ballot measures, so to kick off the year, here are five of them that took into effect January 1, 2019.

Minimum Wage in the US

Map of the US with states and territories indicated where minimum wage is higher than the federal minimum wage of 7.25 per hour
Map of the US with states and territories indicated where minimum wage is higher than the federal minimum wage of $7.25 per hour. 
Critics for increasing minimum wage say that smaller businesses would not be able to keep up with minimum wage increases, which is bad for workers as small businesses make the most jobs in communities throughout America. Conversely, supporters for minimum wage increases say that workers would have more buying capital and reduce the effects of poverty. 

Therefore, when increases in wages happen at the state level, legislators usually elect to increase wages over a period of time. This gives businesses time to adjust to the increased cost.  You can learn more about the argument with sources at "Issues and Controversies". 

State Required Background Checks for Gun Ownership

Washington Initiative 1639: Changes to gun ownership and purchasing requirements

This citizen initiative was designed to establish background checks and waiting periods for purchasing semiautomatic assault rifles, as defined by the initiative; establish requirements for the storage of firearms; and increase the minimum age to buy semiautomatic assault rifles to 21. It was approved by 59 percent of voters. The age requirement provision goes into effect today. The other provisions are set to take effect on July 1, 2019.

Increasing State Minimum Wages to 12/hr by 2022-'23

Arkansas Issue 5 and Missouri Proposition B: Minimum wage increase
In Massachusetts and Michigan, minimum wage increases were enacted by the legislature after citizen initiative efforts met signature collection thresholds. The first of the incremental increases set by the Massachusetts and Michigan legislation went into effect today. In Massachusetts, the bill was part of a compromise with initiative proponents. In Michigan, successful initiative petitions go to the legislature first and only to the ballot if the legislature does not approve them. The Michigan State Legislature approved a 2018 minimum wage increase initiative and then amended it to extend the timeline for reaching $12.00 per hour from 2022 (the initiative) to 2030 (the legislative bill).
Arkansas and Missouri state minimum wages increased today because of citizen initiatives approved by voters in November. The Arkansas minimum wage increased from $8.50 per hour to $9.25 per hour, with scheduled increases to $11.00 per hour by 2021. The Missouri minimum wage increased from $7.85 per hour to $8.60 per hour, with scheduled increases to $12.00 per hour by 2023 and adjustments tied to the Consumer Price Index thereafter.
Nineteen other states and Washington, D.C., have minimum wage increases in 2019, including 16 that took effect today.

Giving State Legislature a Governor's Power: Calling Special Sessions

​​​​​​​Utah Amendment C: Legislature able to call special sessions​​​​​​​
Utah Constitutional Amendment C was approved by 63 percent of voters in November and went into effect today. It was put on the ballot by the legislature. The measure allows the legislature to call itself into a special session under certain circumstances. This means that the Utah State Legislature will convene it’s regular 2019 session for the first time with the ability to call a special session, a power previously held only by the governor. Amendment C also requires the governor to take one of two actions if the state’s expenses exceed the state’s actual revenue in a fiscal year: (1) proportionately reduce the amount of money spent by government agencies or (2) convene a special legislative session. Prior to today, if actual revenues were less than the projected revenue and spending authorized by the legislature during the regular session, the governor had discretion over the amounts by which spending was decreased for various government agencies and was allowed, but not required, to call a special legislative session. Before the passage of Amendment C, Utah was one of 15 states where only the governor had the power to call the legislature to convene a special session. Following the passage of Amendment C, in Utah and 35 other states, either the governor or the state legislature could call the legislature to convene a special session.

Tax Exemptions: Feminine Hygiene Products and Active Military Property

Nevada Question 2: Feminine hygiene sales tax exemption
Question 2 was approved by 56 percent of voters in November and went into effect today. It exempts feminine hygiene products from state and local sales taxes. The measure was put on the ballot by the state legislature. The state sales tax in Nevada is 4.6 percent. Nine other states and Washington, D.C., provide exemptions for feminine products: Connecticut, Florida, Illinois, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New Jersey, New York, and Pennsylvania.

Utah Amendment A: Active military property tax exemption
Amendment A was approved by 79 percent of voters in November and went into effect today. It changed the requirement to qualify for an active military property tax exemption. Amendment A made the required amount of time served in the military under an order of active duty to be 200 days in a 365-day period. Before today, the requirement was 200 days in a single calendar year or 200 consecutive days.

Call to Action: Getting Measures on the Ballot

Getting measures on the ballot varies state by state. For example, North Carolina does not allow any form of citizen-initiated ballot measures. Therefore, all ballot measures must be referred by the state legislature. Further, the ballot measure must be approved by 60% of the legislature chambers before the measure can be placed on the ballot. 
In contrast, Washington state DOES allow citizen initiated ballot measures. This is done through state statues that draft petitions and collect signatures. 

View election 2018 ballot measures taking into effect this year by state here. At the link also, you can research how your state gets measures onto the ballot and begin petitioning for measures the next election. Even if your state may not allow citizen initiated ballot measures, you may be able to petition your state legislature to include measures on your behalf. After all, in the United States, many changes that you want to see in every day governing are managed at the local, lower levels of government: city/town, county and state.